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Continued: Northwestern University to unveil photos, coffins, artifacts in horror writer's 'Death Collection'

  • Article by: DON BABWIN , Associated Press
  • Last update: October 31, 2013 - 7:37 AM

Those paying their respects in the 19th and early 20th centuries frequently selected a tribute song for the dead to play inside the family homes, Joseph said. There were some 100 popular pieces of topical sheet music, with such titles as "She Died On Her Wedding Day."

Weirder still, at least by today's standards, is McDowell's collection of what were called "spirit" photographs that include both the living and a ghostly image purportedly of a dead person hovering nearby.

In one photograph, Georgiana Houghton, a prominent 19th century medium, shakes hands with an apparition of her dead sister. She explains the photograph "is the first manifestation of inner spiritual life."

"I'm sure Michael, when he came across this, was totally excited," Krafft said.

While the collection isn't yet on display, members of the public can see one piece when they enter the library reading room where it is housed. That children's coffin that once belonged to McDowell now holds Halloween candy.

"I don't think it was ever used," Krafft said.

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